Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to Lady Conway
As I was lately retired in spirit and waiting upon the Lord, having a sense on me of thy long, sore, and deep affliction and distress; there arose a scripture in my heart to lay before thee; namely, Heb. 12:5,6,7. which, I entreat thee, to call for a Bible and hear read, before thou proceedest to what follows.
O my friend! after it hath pleased the Lord in tender mercy to visit us, and turn our minds from the world and ourselves towards him, and to beget and nourish that which is pure and living, <464> of himself, in us; yet notwithstanding this, there remains somewhat at first, yea, and perhaps for a long time, which is to be searched out by the light of the Lord, and brought down and subdued by his afflicting hand. When there is, indeed, somewhat of a holy will formed in the day of God's power; and the soul, in some measure, begotten and brought forth to live to God, in the heavenly wisdom; yet all the earthly will and wisdom is not thereby presently removed; but there are hidden things, of the old nature and spirit, still remaining; which, perhaps, appear not, but sink inward into their root, that they may save their life; which man cannot possibly find out in his own heart, but as the Lord reveals them to him. But how doth the Lord find them out? Oh consider! his "fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem." By his casting into the furnace of affliction, the fire searcheth. The deep, sore, distressing affliction, which rends and tears the very inwards, finds out both the seed and the chaff, purifying the pure gold and consuming the dross; and then, at length, the quiet state is witnessed, and the quiet fruit of righteousness brought forth, by the searching and consuming nature and operation of the fire. Oh that thy soul may be tried unto victory over all that is not of the pure life in thee! and that thou mayest wait to feel the pure seed, or measure of life in thee, and die into the seed, feeling death unto all that is not of the seed in thee! and that thou mayest feel life, healing, refreshment, support, and comfort from the God of thy life, in the seed; -- and nowhere else, nor at any time, but as the Lord pleaseth to administer it to thee there. Oh! the Lord guide thee daily, and keep thy mind to him; at least, looking towards the holy place of the springing of his life and power in thy heart. Look unto him. Help, pity, salvation, will arise in his due time; but it will not arise from any thing thou canst do or think; and faith will spring, and patience be given, and hope in the tender Father of mercy, and a meek and quiet spirit will be witnessed; and the Lamb's nature springing up and opening in thee, from his precious seed, which will excel in nature, kind, degree, and virtue, all the faith, patience, hope, meekness, &c., which thou, or any else, otherwise can attain unto. Oh! look not at thy pain or sorrow, how great soever; but look from them, look off them, look beyond them, to the Deliverer! <465> whose power is over them, and whose loving, wise, and tender Spirit is able to do thee good by them. And if the outward afflictions work out an exceeding weight of glory, oh what shall the inward do for those, who are humbly, brokenly, and faithfully exercised before the Lord by them! Oh! wait to feel the seed, and the cry of thy soul in the breathing life of the seed, to its Father, with its sweet, kindly, and natural subjection to him. And wait for the risings of the power in thy heart, in the Father's seasons, and for faith in the power; that thou mayst feel inward healing, of all the inward wounds which the Lord makes in thy soul, through his love to thee for thy good.
If thou wilt receive the kingdom that cannot be shaken, thou must wait to have that discovered in thee, which may be shaken; and the Lord arising terribly to shake the earth, and it removed out of its place as a cottage, and the heavens also rolled up like a scroll. And while the Lord is doing this, he will be hiding thee in the hollow of his hand (thy mind still retiring to the seed), and will, in these troublesome and dismal times, inwardly be forming the new heavens and the new earth, wherein, when they are brought forth and established, dwells righteousness. The Lord lead thee, day by day, in the right way, and keep thy mind staid upon him, in whatever befalls thee; that the belief of his love and hope in his mercy, when thou art at the lowest ebb, may keep up thy head above the billows; and that thou mayst go on in the disciple's state, learning righteousness and holiness of Him, who teacheth to deny and put off unholiness and unrighteousness, and to know, embrace and put on newness of life, and the holiness and righteousness thereof.
The Lord God of my life be with thee, preserving and ordering thy heart for the great day of his love and mercy; which will come in the appointed season, when the heart is fully exercised and fitted by the Lord for it, and will not tarry.